Denny Hamlin wins Stage 2 of Cup playoff race at Phoenix Raceway

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Denny Hamlin dominated to win Stage 2 of the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway.

Hamlin, who is seeking to qualifying for the final spot in next week’s championship race, led every green flag lap in the 75-lap stage.

Hamlin led Matt Kenseth, Erik Jones, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Chase Elliott and Clint Bowyer across the line.

The stage ended under caution after defending champion Jimmie Johnson blew a tire and hit the wall in Turn 3 on the last lap. Johnson entered the race last in the playoff standings, 51 points back from Brad Keselowski for the final transfer spot. Johnson will not have a chance to win a record eighth Cup title next week.

“Hate it for this team, they’ve worked so hard all year long and I’m proud of their efforts,” Johnson told NBCSN. “We’ll come back next year and try real hard.”

Johnson will finish 39th.

Keselowski finished the stage in 13th. He entered the race holding on to the final transfer spot, 19 points ahead of Hamlin. In the first two stages, Hamlin earned 19 stage points, while Keselowski scored none for the second race in a row.

Keselowski and Hamlin are tied entering the final stage of the race.

Kyle Larson, who led 11 laps and won Stage 1, exited the race on Lap 104 with an engine problem. It’s his fourth DNF in a row and his second for losing an engine.

“It’s unfortunate,” Larson told NBCSN. “Crappy way to end the season. Thought I had by far the best car here today. I was really happy about that. … Definitely the best car I had at Phoenix.”

Larson finished 39th at Kansas after engine problems and 37th at Martinsville and Texas after wrecks. He will finish 40th today.

The race is scheduled to end on Lap 312.

Watch: Championship 4 drivers share thoughts on Miami outcome

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After 200 laps Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, William Byron claimed the Xfinity Series championship in his rookie year by finishing third in the Ford EcoBoost 300.

He finished ahead of his JR Motorsports teammates, Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier, and Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric.

Watch the above video for Byron’s first interview as a NASCAR champion.

Below are interviews with the remaining Championship 4 drivers.

Elliott Sadler

Sadler placed eighth in the race after contact with Ryan Preece with less than 10 laps to go cut a tire on his No. 1 Chevrolet. It Sadler’s fourth runner-up result in the points in his Xfinity career.

Justin Allgaier

Allgaier finished 12th in the race after struggling for most 300-mile event. He was competing without his primary crew chief, who had been suspended for the race. Chad Knaus, the seven-time champion crew chief in the Cup Series with Jimmie Johnson, helped out on the pit box for the No. 7 Chevrolet.

Daniel Hemric

Hemric finished last among the Championship 4 drivers in 34th after his No. 21 Chevrolet experienced battery problems early in Stage 2. Hemric spent 12 laps on pit road before returning to the race.

JR Motorsports sweeps top three in final Xfinity Series standings

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William Byron finished third in Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 to give JR Motorsports its second Xfinity title.

The team, co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., swept the top-three spots in the final standings with Elliott Sadler placing second and Justin Allgaier in third.

Daniel Hemric placed fourth after finishing last among the Championship 4 drivers in the race.

Race-winner Cole Custer ends the season in fifth.

Click here for the points results.

Results, stats for Xfinity season finale at Miami

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Cole Custer led 182 laps to win the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It’s his first Xfinity win and the first series win for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Custer swept all three stages of the race and beat Sam Hornish Jr., William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Ryan Preece.

Byron clinched the Xfinity title with his third-place finish.

Click here for results.

Devastated Elliott Sadler watches another title chance go away

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HOMESTEAD, Florida — Elliott Sadler’s fourth runner-up finish for the Xfinity title in the last seven years was a pain he had not felt before.

“I’d say tonight is the most devastating and down and out I’ve ever felt in my career,’’ Sadler said after finishing second to JR Motorsports teammate William Byron for the championship.

Sadler’s anger was directed at Ryan Preece, who slowed Sadler by challenging him for position and stalling Sadler’s momentum as Sadler tried to hold off Byron for the championship in the final 10 laps.

“We were in position to win this championship,’’ Sadler said. “We were there. He raced me hard and held me down and (Byron) got a run on us and he let (Byron) go. Very frustrating.’’

Byron took advantage by diving under Sadler and passing him. Sadler tried to get by Preece but made contact that caused his right front tire to go down. Sadler finished eighth, losing the championship to Byron, who placed third.

“To be that close and not win a championship is frustrating,’’ said the 42-year-old Sadler, who has not won a title in any of NASCAR’s top three national series. “I don’t have many years left, and I wanted to try to fulfill a childhood dream. I didn’t know it was going to come down to a guy that’s not even racing for anything to hold us down like that. No respect at all.’’

Preece said he was racing for something. He was in the No. 18 for Joe Gibbs Racing to compete for the car owner’s title.

“I’m just doing what I’m doing for Joe ,’’ Preece said. “They told me to race for the owners championship.’’

Sadler didn’t buy it when told what Preece said..

“He wasn’t because (Sam Hornish Jr.) was half a lap ahead of him,’’ Sadler said, referring to the Team Penske car that won the car owners title. “He wasn’t racing anybody.’’

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